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I was stabbed because I am Israeli, Amman embassy guard tells police

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraces Ziv, a guard at the Israeli embassy in Jordan who fatally shot two locals after being attacked with a screwdriver.
Haim Tzach/GPO
Jordan vows Israeli diplomats will not be allowed back in Amman until security guard faces trial

The embattled Israeli security guard at at the center of a diplomatic crisis with Jordan has told police that the Jordanian teen who attempted to stab him with a screwdriver at Israel's embassy in Amman on Sunday was nationalistically motivated, local media reported on Thursday.

Jordan's king indicated earlier in the day that his country's fraying diplomatic relations with Israel hinged on a trial for the embassy guard, who killed both the attacker, Zakaria al-Jawadah, and an innocent bystander, Bashar Hamarneh.

According to reports on Israel's Channel Ten and Ynet, the guard, known only as Ziv, told police on Thursday night that the teen questioned him about his nationality and upon discovering he is Israeli, drew a screwdriver and began trying to stab him in the neck.

Ziv also reportedly claimed that the shooting was a "last resort."

The guard's version of events differs from other accounts that suggested the stabbing was motivated by a row over the late delivery of furniture.

King Abdullah II personally attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and urged him to "take responsibility and take legal steps including the trial of the killer," a royal court statement reported him as saying.

The king called on the Israeli premier to "implement justice instead of dealing with this crime in the manner of a political show for personal political gains".

Yousef Allan (Jordanian Royal Palace/AFP)

"This kind of behavior -- which is unacceptable and provocative on all levels -- has made us all angry... and feeds extremism in the region," he said.

He vowed Jordan would do everything possible towards obtaining justice for its two slain nationals.

Earlier on Thursday, Jordanian media reported that the government had decided not to permit Israel's Ambassador or other Amman-based diplomats back into the country until Israel supplied “full and complete guarantees” that the security guard, known only as Ziv, would face trial.

The King's statement did not address the report, and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not commented.

Israel refused to turn over embassy staff for questioning, citing the diplomatic immunity bestowed on them under international law, angering Jordan, which then temporarily blocked the security guard from leaving the country.

A deal between Israel and Jordan, struck with US intervention, secured the officer's release and both he and Ambassador Einat Schlein received a warm welcome back in Israel, which included a chummy personal greeting by Netanyahu.

KHALIL MAZRAAWI (AFP)

The homecoming also angered the Jordanian Foreign Minister who called their "heroes" welcome "absurd."

"They tried to portray things as if the ambassador and the suspect [the guard] were under siege, and that they were liberated and celebrated as heroes coming home," Ayman Al Safadi told CNN. "That is really absurd. This is a criminal case. Jordan acted legally and morally and Israel has a duty to act similarly and cease its provocative behavior and distorting facts."

The incident came as relations with Jordan were already strained over Israel's decision to install metal detectors at the entrances to Jerusalem's Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, following a July 14 shooting attack there that left two Israeli police officers dead.

The measures were removed on Thursday after weeks of intensive diplomatic efforts, including by Jordan.

Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem and the Waqf, the entity that administers the Temple Mount, is funded by the Hashemite Kingdom.

Jordan became the second Arab nation after Egypt to establish diplomatic relations with Israel signing a peace treaty in 1994.

See also:

Jordan mourners chant 'death to Israel' after deadly embassy shooting

Netanyahu spoke with Jordan's King Abdullah about the embassy and Temple Mount

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